Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Forecaster:   Kevin Wright  
Thursday, March 20th 2014
Created: Mar 20th 6:35 am
2 Moderate Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
The Bottom Line

Weather continues to be calm and sunny.  The snowpack has gotten more stable since the last storm.  However, the possibility still exists to trigger deep slab avalanches up to 5 feet deep in terrain over 35 degrees.  

MODERATE danger can be found in areas above treeline in steep terrain.  The likelihood of triggering a deep slab pocket is low, but the consequences to your health would be significant.

Below treeline the danger is LOW.  

Primary Concern

It has been 5 days since we have had reports of major avalanche activity.  This is a good sign, as time goes on people are getting on increasingly agressive slopes and the snowpack is trending towards stable.  

Anyone riding in big, steep terrain must understand the possibility of a large avalanche still exists.  The slab/weak layer combination that caused the big avalanches last weekend is still present.  Both the slab and weak layer have gained strength over time, making it more difficult to trigger this problem.  But remember, this isn't our typical snow year.  The snowpack is shallow, and multiple crust layers have led to persistent weaknesses.  Click here for a writeup of the big avalanche in Seattle creek last weekend.

Steep terrain should be approached with a conservative mindset.  Ask yourself, "What would happen if this slope avalanched?"  

Secondary Concern

Cornices are as big as we've seen them this year.  The photo is from last week of a section that dropped spontaneously, triggering a slab on the slope below.  

Check out this video for a good perspective of a close call with a cornice.


Mountain Weather

Perfect March weather would be accurate for the last few days.  Sunny skies, minimal wind, and comfortable temperatures.  

Today will bring more of the same.  Some clouds will roll in by the afternoon.  Wind will be calm, and temperatures rising with the sun exposure.  

For the long-term, we don't see any significant storms from now through the weekend.  A ridge across mainland Alaska is keeping the low pressure at bay.  

This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (this advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).

Winter snowmachine use open/closed status and riding conditions updates

Riding status is not associated with avalanche danger. An area will be open to motorized use in accordance to the Forest Management Plan when snow coverage is adequate to protect underlying vegetation. Backcountry hazards including avalanche hazard are always present regardless of the open status of motorized use areas.

(Updated: Nov 18, 2017 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedOnly a few inches of snow sits at the motorized lot, not enough to open for snowmachining at this time. Updated Nov. 18, 2017
Twentymile: Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: Closed
Primrose Trail: Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedResurrection Pass trail is expected to open to snowmachine use during the 2017/18 winter season.
Snug Harbor: Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Closed
Summit Lake: Closed

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The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory provided by the Chugach National Forest, in partnership with Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
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